|Major Groups > Puffballs > Calvatia gigantea|
by Michael Kuo
The giant puffball, Calvatia gigantea, is easily recognized by its size and shape. Typical specimens are about the size of a soccer ball, and more or less round. However, it can be much larger (a 5-foot, 50-pound specimen is on record!), and its shape can be more "blob-ish" than round, especially when it attains enormous sizes. But it is never shaped like an inverted pear, since it lacks the sterile base portion common to many other puffballs.
Langermannia gigantea is a synonym; for a discussion of the Langermannia-Calvatia controversy, follow the link below to Tom Volk's Fungi.
Ecology: Saprobic; terrestrial; growing alone or gregariously in grass--often at the edges of meadows, in drainage ditches, or under brush; late summer and early fall; widely distributed east of the Rocky Mountains.
Fruiting Body: Shaped like a ball, or nearly so; up to 60 cm or more across; white when fresh, becoming yellowish or olive brown; finely velvety when young, but soon smooth; soft; interior white and fleshy, becoming yellowish or greenish yellow; the outer surface eventually falling away in pieces; often with a small cord at the point of attachment to the ground.
Microscopic Features: Spores 3-5.5 x 3-5 µ; round or nearly so; minutely spiny or nearly smooth. Capillitial threads 2-9 µ wide; thick-walled; occasionally branched; septate.
REFERENCES: (Batsch, 1801) Lloyd, 1904. (Coker & Couch, 1928; Smith, 1951; Zeller & Smith, 1964; Ramsey, 1978 / 2003; Smith, Smith & Weber, 1981; Arora, 1986; Lincoff, 1992; Barron, 1999; McNeil, 2006; Miller & Miller, 2006.)
Cited above: Money, N. P. (2005). Why picking wild mushrooms may be bad behaviour. Mycological Research 109: 131-135.
The western species Calvatia booniana can grow to 60 cm or more--but its surface is composed of polygonal scales.
Further Online Information:
Cite this page as:
Kuo, M. (2005, September). Calvatia gigantea. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: http://www.mushroomexpert.com/calvatia_gigantea.html